“the most shameful moment in the history of U.S. science policy”

In this week’s Science magazine, H. Holden Thorp damns the president of the USA.

When President Donald Trump began talking to the public about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in February and March, scientists were stunned at his seeming lack of understanding of the threat. We assumed that he either refused to listen to the White House briefings that must have been occurring or that he was being deliberately sheltered from information to create plausible deniability for federal inaction. Now, because famed Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward recorded him, we can hear Trump’s own voice saying that he understood precisely that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was deadly and spread through the air. As he was playing down the virus to the public, Trump was not confused or inadequately briefed: He flat-out lied, repeatedly, about science to the American people. These lies demoralized the scientific community and cost countless lives in the United States.

Over the years, this page has commented on the scientific foibles of U.S. presidents. Inadequate action on climate change and environmental degradation during both Republican and Democratic administrations have been criticized frequently. Editorials have bemoaned endorsements by presidents on teaching intelligent design, creationism, and other antiscience in public schools. These matters are still important. But now, a U.S. president has deliberately lied about science in a way that was imminently dangerous to human health and directly led to widespread deaths of Americans.

Congress needs to throw the asshole out now, and the American people need to elect a better human being to the office in November.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    For the last 40 years in America, the abyss between “neeed to” and “will do ” has been a bottomless dark chasm. The difference is, now it has become obvious, Why? When those who would keep the system in check are corrupt, it is no longer necessary to keep up appearences.

  2. raven says

    “the most shameful moment in the history of U.S. science policy”

    For now any way.
    In the distance, I can hear, “Hold my Diet Coke” and watch Trump and the GOP top that.

    George Bush did win one of his wars, amazingly enough. The GOP War on Science was a huge victory for them.

  3. raven says

    “the most shameful moment in the history of U.S. science policy”

    I’m sure it is for now.
    There were moments in the past that came close.
    One from my childhood was Herman Kahn and his book, On Thermonuclear War, which was partially the basis for US nuclear weapons strategy during the Cold War with the USSR.
    Kahn claimed:

    .1. A nuclear war wouldn’t end civilization. Undoubtedly wrong.
    .2. Wouldn’t mean the extinction of humans. Probably right but irrelevant.
    It’s likely most Americans and Russians would end up dead.
    .3. Civil defense programs would work. Never happened. Look at how well the GOP pandemic preparation programs worked, the ones that they killed off before the Covid-19 virus appeared.
    .4. An all out nuclear war was winnable.
    They knew at the time, this was wrong.
    This was during the time when our strategy, still in effect was MAD, Mutual Assured Destruction.

    It was eerie growing up as a grade school kid, being told to prepare for an all out nuclear war.

  4. says

    Trump deliberately removed the global pandemic teams that were in China to stop viruses from spreading. He knew that if they were removed it would mean a pandemic virus was likely to be unleashed. When it was unleashed he knew it was deadly and easily spread but he prevented people from taking action against it. Occam’s Razor says Trump deliberately wanted to kill 200,000 Americans and he has opposed mask wearing and social distancing. He holds repeated events that bring unmasked people closely together in order to ensure the virus will continue to spread. People have said this was due to ‘ignorance’ but Woodward’s book shows that it wasn’t: it was pure evil.